ASA Adjudication on Bauer Consumer Media Ltd
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd t/a
1 August 2012
Number of complaints:
A promotion on the cover of Today's Golfer magazine offered two-for-one on golf. Text stated "FREE! 2-FORE!-1 VOUCHER. SAVE UP TO £165 OFF YOUR NEXT ROUND. PLAY HALF-PRICE GOLF AT A COURSE NEAR YOU!" The voucher stated "2-FORE!-1 GOLF VOUCHER. PLAY MORE PAY LESS. The bearer of this voucher and a partner are entitled to play under the 2-FORE!-1 terms described by each course in any current authorised 2-FORE!-1 Course Factfile. Two vouchers may be used for four players to play together for the price of two. Participating courses allow either a maximum of 4 or 8 players per booking only (please check when booking). Valid until 30.04.2012 ... ".
Text on the inside cover of the magazine stated "... VOUCHER OFFER & COURSES GUIDE. This 64-page Courses Guide reveals more than 900 courses to play for half-price with 2-FORE!-1 voucher. The Grove - Save £165, Gleneagles - Save £155, Forest of Arden - Save £120, Turnberry - Save £105 ... ". Text on the reverse side of the voucher stated " ... MAIN TERMS FOR 2-FORE!-1 PLAY. You must telephone your selected 2-FORE!-1 course(s) to book a tee time. Before you request the booking you must declare that you wish to use a 2-FORE!-1 Golf voucher. 2-FORE!-1 tee bookings are always subject to availability ... Full terms and conditions are published in the authorised current versions of the 2-FORE!-1 Course Factfile and on www.241golf.com ... ".
The complainant challenged whether the claim "2-FORE!-1" was misleading because he understood that some of the courses mentioned did not accept the voucher.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (Bauer) explained that 2-FORE!-1 vouchers had been running for almost ten years. The vouchers could be purchased online, over the telephone or via a mobile phone and were normally valid for 12 months. They could be redeemed at over 900 golf courses but, as detailed in the marketing campaign, each course may have slightly different conditions of use. For example, some courses would allow a maximum of four golfers playing together with the vouchers, some courses only accepted vouchers during the high season (starting in May) or during the low season (finishing in April), some courses had dress codes, etc. The courses reserved their rights to amend these terms from time to time.
They explained that the purpose of the campaign was to raise awareness of the 2-FORE!-1 voucher service and to give readers of Today's Golfer a taster of the service available so that they would go on to purchase the annual vouchers. They were not trying to drive their readers to any particular golf course. They pointed out that the campaign clearly stated that consumers should contact their selected course prior to booking their game to ensure the voucher would be accepted and check what their specific rules were and that the free voucher was only valid until 30th April 2012. The voucher featured in the April 2012 edition of Today's Golfer which went on sale to the public on 23rd February 2012.
The ASA understood that the voucher in the promotion was valid until 30 April 2012, whereas the vouchers were normally valid for 12 months. We understood that the complainant had contacted at least two of the golf courses in the Courses Guide and was told that they would only accept 2-FORE!-1 vouchers during their high season which started in May and so would not redeem the voucher. One of the courses contacted by the complainant was Gleneagles, which was referred to in the promotion. The reverse of the voucher stated that consumers were required to telephone their selected course to book and that bookings were subject to availability. However, we considered that the terms of the promotion did not make sufficiently clear that the voucher would not be accepted by certain courses because of the expiry date, including at least one of the courses referred to in the promotion. We therefore concluded that the promotion was misleading.
The promotion breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 (Qualification).
The promotion must not appear again in its current form. We told Bauer to ensure that in future they make clear in the promotion if there are certain golf courses which will not accept the voucher because of its expiry date.